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Mike Weir plays solo on second nine in 2023 Masters opener. Here are his options for Friday

AUGUSTA, Ga. — On the 20th anniversary of his Masters Tournament win, Mike Weir may have experienced a career-first Thursday.

Following Kevin Na’s withdrawal on the No. 10 tee (due to an illness), Weir played the second-nine at Augusta National Golf Club solo. A walking official kept his score for the remainder of the round. It was the only time in recent memory he recalled playing by himself as a professional.

“I can’t remember the last time played as a single,” he said. “I’m sure at some point in my career I probably did, but I am struggling to find my memory bank where it was. So that was a strange back nine.”

It didn’t hurt his score. The 2003 Masters champ carded a 72 in the tournament opener, highlighted by birdies on Nos. 8, 12 and 15.

Masters 2023 leaderboard: Get the latest news from Augusta

“I played really well. 72’s a nice score,” he said. “That could have been a really, really good score today. I missed three short putts on the back nine today. But outside of that, I played really well. I drove it well. I made some nice putts to get the round going early, maybe a 6- or 7-footer on No. 1 for par and another one on 3. So that was some nice momentum early, and then I just played really well the rest of the day, hit some really nice shots, and on the longer holes hit it in the right spots to capitalize. I just didn’t — those couple 3-putts hurt, but overall, I played nicely.”

Weir said Na informed him earlier that things weren’t quite right before calling it at the turn.

“Right there on 10 tee,” he said. “But he said earlier he wasn’t feeling well. So I’m not sure what’s happening, but he told me earlier he wasn’t feeling well.”

Normally with an odd number of players following the cut, a marker takes the place so nobody plays solo. For years, that role was held by Jeff Knox until 2022. While a marker is a possibility Friday, moving around players in the field as needed is still an option.

“I just heard today they might, you know a marker looks like that’s probably what’s going to happen, but they might move somebody in the field with me, too,” Weir said.

A number of things come into play without a partner. Weir noted that he had the opportunity to be a bit more deliberate in his approaches.

“I think just slow down, slow down a little bit, and then it was my time just to kind of get into the routine,” he said. “On 10, 11, I got a little out of sorts on 10, 11 and then kind of settled it back down. I know I was going to be an hour and a half or so ahead of the group behind me, or an hour or so, so I knew I didn’t have to hustle, but I didn’t want to be like super slow. But still take my time, make my decisions, and — so, yeah, it’s a little bit different, for sure.”

That also removes the ability to see his partner’s shot and make any necessary adjustments.

“I think, yeah, you do pick up on speed of greens. You see how the ball’s flying through the air. When you’re trying to figure out the wind, you pay attention to ball flight and things like that,” he said. “Not so much on tee shots, but approach shots into the greens and around the greens, you see how the greens reacting and things like that when you’re playing with somebody else.”

Either way, Weir is in a good spot entering Friday. Whoever he’s paired with for the second round, it won’t change his approach to the tournament.

“I’ll try not to think too much about it,” he said. “So yeah, it will be a little different, but we’ll have a good time whoever we’re playing with and just kind of make the most of it and try to get in the same rhythm that I had today.”

Later in the day, Will Zalatoris withdrew before his first round started.

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